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Coraid Adds SSD, Management Capabilities

Coraid, a developer of Ethernet-based SANs that has roots in the Linux environment, is introducing two new products that should provide significant cost and performance benefits, says CEO Kevin Brown. "There is a five to eight times price-performance advantage, and power and space savings are over and above that."

The Coraid EtherFlash bundle, which is currently shipping, combines flash drives with the scale-out architecture of the company's SAN to provide nearly 200,000 IOPS starting at $10 per gigabyte. Consisting of a standard EtherDrive SRX array with solid-state disk (SSD) drives and the upcoming release of its CorOS 6.0 distributed operating system, a single 4U rack scales to more than 4 million IOPS and supports up to 200 Tbytes.

Due to ship in the fourth quarter, the Ethernet SAN Manager takes out a lot of the complexity of storage management, says Brown. It can be put online in less than 30 seconds and looks like internal disk to servers.

Although the company started shipping product in 2004, it was a case of succeeding in spite of itself, says Brown, who came aboard 18 months ago. "Coraid got to 1,000 customers with two part-time support people, and now we're up to 1,400 customers ... and have grown revenues six times." Formerly with NetApp, he started looking for a new opportunity after his company, Kidaro, was acquired by Microsoft. "I looked at over 130 companies ... and haven't seen any company in the valley that can have the potential impact of Coraid."

The company just created a customer council and in March partnered with Arista Networks to deliver high-performance Ethernet storage area networking that the companies say could offer a five to eight times price/performance advantage over legacy storage systems, and at the same time make it easier to deploy virtualization and the cloud.

Coraid seems to be executing pretty well by both acquiring new customers and pleasing those that it has, says Mark Peters, senior analyst, the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). "It is really only in the last year or two--with infusions of money, personnel and intent--that it has been properly focused on sales, marketing and getting the full storage functionality suite to enable it to have a broad appeal in the higher-end SMB and enterprise space."

From a product perspective, Peters says, the EtherFlash bundle endorses and extends the stamp of approval for SSD integration into storage systems. "Why this matters is that we are seeing a gradual move from SSD being for point applications and somewhat marginal use to it being a regular part of regular infrastructures. This continues that trend."

It's good news for the company because it is able to integrate variable amounts of this uber-high-performance option into its already fast-performing storage pool, he adds. "Coraid’s 'scale-out, single-pool' approach to storage is not changed, but it is enhanced inasmuch as users have a new way to add performance in addition to mixing HDD types."

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